How to Use Social Media for Affiliate Marketing?
From recommending products in blog posts, coupon codes from influencer promos, or even simply sharing referral links between friends and family, affiliate marketing makes it easy to promote your business online, especially on social media.
Being both free and user-friendly, social media has emerged to be one of the go-to channels for affiliate marketing.
Social media has made it so that virtually anyone can become an affiliate of your brand. Affiliates are no longer required to have a well-known blog or celebrity status recognition to successfully promote their products. Instead, these platforms provide affiliates with the tools they need to create content and seamlessly share referral links to their built-in audience of followers.
What is Affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of making money online every time a customer purchases a product based on your recommendation.
This is an online sales tactic that allows you – ‘the affiliate’ – to earn a commission and helps the product owner increase sales. At the same time, it makes it possible for affiliates to earn money on product sales without creating products of their own.
Here’s how affiliate marketing works:
- A brand sets up an affiliate marketing program through which content creators can send traffic to a landing page or encourage sales for a small commission. These sales are tracked through a unique link or code.
- A content creator looks for affiliate programs that match their niche. They use affiliate links or promo codes when mentioning the products in their social media posts or online content.
- The content creator (or affiliate) earns a commission when people purchase the products through their links or codes. This helps the brand to reach a targeted audience they wouldn’t have had access to on their own. Both parties benefit from the relationship.
Why Use Social Media in Affiliate Marketing?
In fact, over 80% of brands are running affiliate marketing programs to reach more customers. Instead of spending time and money looking for new customers, you can get others to do it for you. As a result, you can get more sales and grow your business in no time. When it comes to affiliate marketing, social media is actually one of the best places to do it.
Right now, more than 4.62 billion people are using social media and the number is only growing. With the help of affiliate marketing, you can reach these people and turn them into customers.
How is affiliate marketing different from influencer marketing?
If an affiliate is redirecting customer traffic to a merchant’s website, doesn’t that qualify as influencer marketing? While there is indeed a natural overlap between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, they are not necessarily the same. It is important to understand the differences between the two and how each of them works in order to maximize the revenue-generating opportunities offered by both.
Influencer marketing is a collaboration between brands and individuals who already have a sizable audience (or influencers), where the individuals are paid to endorse or promote the brand or its products/ services. It is a marketing strategy by which brands reach their target audience and try to ‘influence’ their purchasing behavior.
With affiliate marketing, brands incentivize affiliates to promote their products/ services online by offering a commission for every sale they cause. i.e. the affiliate receives a commission if a visitor purchases the product from a link (or code) unique to the affiliate, published on their website or channel.
In influencer marketing, the number of followers, social media impressions, and interactions measure the ‘engagement’ that an influencer could generate. This is a key factor that determines the amount paid to the influencer based on their quote, whether or not the influencer activity actually leads to sales. Typically, influencers are paid a one-time fee, or a per post/content fee, for the activity.
Benefits of the affiliate marketing model
Affiliate marketing offers several benefits to you as an affiliate, one of which is its ease. Your side of the equation simply involves handling a part of the “marketing” side of the product’s success— i.e. educating customers. You don’t have to worry about the harder tasks, like developing, supporting, or fulfilling the offer.
Affiliate marketing is low risk. Since there’s no cost to join affiliate programs, you can start making money with an established affiliate product or service without any upfront investment. Also, affiliate marketing can generate a relatively passive income through commission. Though initially, you’ll have to invest time in creating traffic sources, your affiliate links can continue to deliver a steady paycheck.
How to Use Social Media for Affiliate Marketing
In this post, we’ve listed our tried-and-tested ways to do affiliate marketing on social media. Since they’re all user-friendly, you can get started right away.
1. Set Up Your Affiliate Program
If you haven’t done so already, start by setting up your affiliate marketing program.
Affiliate tracking software like Tapfiliate will provide you with all the functions and features you need to run your affiliate program in-house. This includes referral links, custom affiliate sign-up pages, shareable marketing materials, and detailed performance reports.
2. Choose the Right Social Media Platform
Find the social media platform that will be most beneficial to your affiliate marketing goals.
Start with researching the biggest social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the newcomer TikTok. But also be sure to check out more topic-focused platforms such as Pinterest, Reddit, and Quora.
3. Determine your goals
Like all marketing strategies, you need to start your affiliate marketing program by setting clear, measurable goals. These goals will help you understand how affiliate marketing fits into your overall social media marketing strategy.
Start with the audience you want to reach. What kinds of customers do you want to get through your affiliate program? What kinds of content creators can help you bring these customers in?
Next, think about what you want to achieve with your affiliate program. Do you want to drive sales only? Build brand awareness? Or get leads for your sales to funnel?
4. Create Vanity Coupon Codes
Did you know that 80% of customers are more likely to buy from places that offer a personalized experience? With vanity coupon codes, you can provide that personalized experience and grow your business with ease.
A vanity code allows your affiliates to create custom coupon codes to share with their audience. As a result, it’s super easy to create memorable coupon codes that stand out and get more conversions.
Instead of using the same generic code as everyone else, your affiliates can pick codes that show off their personality. In fact, they can even create coupon codes that contain inside jokes or references to make it feel exclusive to their audience.
5. Determine your payment, attribution, and commission models
The next step is to decide how you’re going to compensate your affiliates when they start sending customers your way.
Here are the factors that determine how much you’ll pay affiliates and what business results you’ll pay them for.
- Payment model (what you’ll pay your affiliates for). About 99% of brands use a cost-per-action (CPA) model. This means they pay a commission per sale, per lead, per click, or per install.
- Attribution model. This is necessary if many affiliates help to send a customer to your brand. 86% of businesses use last-click attribution. This means they pay a commission to the last affiliate who sends someone your way before they make a purchase. But the involvement of multiple affiliates might affect the sale because customers will visit your site multiple times. So you can also use first-click attribution or pay all the affiliates whose efforts impact your sales funnel.
- Commission structure. How much will you pay an affiliate per sale? Will you pay a percentage commission or a flat rate? As a brand, you should know how much you spend on a new customer or a sale based on your budget for social media ads. Whatever amount you choose to pay, make sure you offer an enticing commission to motivate creators to sign up for your affiliate program and promote your brand.
6. Find Great Affiliates to Promote on Social Media
Finding great affiliates is directly tied to choosing the right social media. You wouldn’t want to partner with an affiliate who uses Pinterest when your marketing is more suited for the content and audiences on YouTube.
As we mentioned before, affiliates can be anyone from your loyal customers to big-name influencers.
Here are some key affiliates to look for on social media:
The most notable affiliates on social media are the “influencers”. Influencers have the ability to reach wide audiences and can be great for brand awareness.
The primary social media platform for influencers is Instagram, along with YouTube and TikTok. Most influencers are within a certain niche, whether it be fashion, makeup, skincare, fitness, travel, wellness, tech, DIY, and so on.
7. rack your affiliate sales
If you think setting up tracking for an affiliate program is a complicated process, you’re not alone. Many marketers have no idea how their affiliate sales are tracked, and about 50% of UK marketers use third-party cookies. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can also track your program through affiliate networks, like Rakuten (formerly LinkShare) and CJ (formerly Commission Junction). The major benefit of using affiliate networks is that they can help you find more affiliates. Plus these networks are the simplest way to set up tracking, as they don’t require that you know how to code.
8. Continuously Optimize Your Program
As we all know, the internet moves fast and the trends on social media are constantly changing.
So once your program is up and running, you’ll want to continuously evaluate your social media promotions.
Here are some things you can do:
- Regularly update product information, including sale and promotion details
- Create & A/B test specific landing pages for your affiliate referral links
- Seek out new affiliates and opportunities on a new platform
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9. Recruit your affiliates
An affiliate program is no good if it doesn’t have… well, affiliates. But affiliates aren’t just gonna start signing up for a new affiliate program. You have to reach out to them.
You can do this in three ways:
- Use an affiliate network. As earlier mentioned, affiliate networks like CJ, Rakuten, and ShareASale can help you find the right affiliates for your business. You just need to input your criteria and the networks will source for affiliates that meet your requirements.
- Cold outreach. You can reach out to potential affiliates via email as you would a brand for a partnership. For more tips on this, check out this Hootsuite post on how to find Instagram influencers.
- Share on social channels. You can announce the launch of your affiliate program on your social media channels, too. Because who is more eager to be an affiliate of your brand than someone who’s already a fan?